Khanh the Killjoy

An X-men ripoff without the complexity

Control - Lydia Kang

This is a cheap designer knockoff of the X-Men series, with none of the complexity, none of the compelling social issues, and a completely preposterous faux-dystopian world. Instead of the jaw-dropping skills of the X-Men, we have a completely lackluster cast of so-called mutants with the combined powers of lulling me the fuck to sleep. There is rampant girl-on-girl hate and passive-aggressive criticism on provovative dress. There is a special, special girl.

“You’re so much more extraordinary than you give yourself credit for. And I’m not just talking about your mind. Your body too.”

There is thinly veiled slut-shaming, even to one's supposedly beloved little sister.

Shaming your 13-year old baby sister for the way she dresses? For her beauty? For the fact that she attracts men? How fucking vile can you get?

Micah gives her a smile and Dyl returns the favor. Like a prize racehorse, she’s even showing teeth in perfect, pearly order. She’s passing with flying colors.

Beauty is not a fucking sin. It is not evil to be lovely.

Beauty. Dyl’s worth is no longer in her looks, it’s in this strand of hair. And I’ll use my own, plain, unspectacular self to help her.

It is not immoral to attract attention. Beauty should not be looked upon as a curse, a scarlet letter, a girl is not shameful a girl should not be ashamed for the fact that she attracts the attention of others. What I hate about this book is that the fact that beauty is looked down as almost impure. Ugliness, plainness is seen as a virtue within its book, at the price of demeaning the other female characters who happen to be beautiful. The main character, Zelia, constantly highlights her own ordinariness, her own plainness, her own diminutive stature, which is more boyish than Venus de Milo, as the virtuous Puritan ideal---withthe underlying, unsaid message that it is better to be righteous and homely than beautiful and innately slutty.

I’m a total embarrassment. My refusal to wear makeup, nice shoes, or tight clothes. My penchant for getting excited over CellTech News, my favorite holo channel. My endless nagging about her flashy dresses and too-shiny lipstick.

Sluttiness is, of course, defined by the way you dress. A girl and another girl cannot exist in the same space without cat fighting. Fuck that shit. Seriously, fuck that shit.

I point to myself and silently mouth the words What did I do? to Wilbert.
“My guess is, you’re female and you exist. Probably an alpha female thing, like wolves or rats—”

A beautiful girl cannot open her mouth without uttering something completely and unnecessarily sexual and provocative.Fuck slut shaming. I mean, really. You cannot judge a person by the way they look. You cannot judge a girl by the way she dresses.

I’m not shocked by the fact she’s wearing the latest fashion from Hookers-R-Us. It’s her face.

Screw anyone who thinks a girl is a bitch, is a slut, is a fucking whore because she dresses provocatively. I live in Southern California. I wear short shorts like they are going out of fashion. I wear the tiniest of miniskirts. I wear crop tops. I'm also college-educated. I'm also fucking smart. I'm also fucking well-read and you better believe that it pisses the bloody hell out of me to read snide comments coming from a book's female narrator on the appearance of a possible female friend, making everything she does sexual.

Vera is on my floor, staring at her crotch.
Well, she’s doing yoga, but in essence, that’s what’s going on.

Making everything she wears sexual. And making judgments on---my fucking god---her own BABY SISTER.

There is a baffling romance that comes out of the blue, and a bewildering attempt at a love triangle that has Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops shaking their heads, simultaneously saying "Get the hell out of my face."

There will always be people who choose to dismiss the significance of comics as an art form. There will always be those who will laugh at what they see as a juvenile form of books, they will say that comics are devoid of complexity. They are wrong. The X-Men series addresses so many issues superbly, among them, the moral, social, and ethical implications of the existence of mutants among mankind, the difficulties of growing up as a mutant. This book almost completely ignores the multiple ramifications of the existence of mutants, instead choosing to focus on the yawn-inducing adventures of a TSTL, vapid, judgmental girl.

Summary: Zelia and her younger sister, Dylia, live with their widowed father in a baffling futuristic version of the US that makes absolutely no sense. Zelia had a conditon at birth, known as Ondine's Curse. She cannot breathe subconsciously. She has to make an effort at it. Zelia has to consciously remember how to breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

There is a medical device that Zelia can wear that aids her in breathing. Zelia doesn't fucking wear it most of the time because it makes her feel uncomfortable. You know what also feels uncomfortable? The lack of oxygen to your fucking brain, you dumb twit.

In this version of the future, they have automated cars. Magpods. You can program it. It will drives for you. Zelia take her family out for a drive. She drives manually, because fuck techology, she's fucking hipster like that. She gets into a car accident. Her father dies. Her family falls apart. Zelia and her sister are now subject to the foster system.

Only it doesn't quite work that way. Instead of being assigned to a family, the sisters undergo a Testing. The social worker, Micah, assigned to her case know her and her very very illegal younger siste's bra sizes. Not fucking creepy at all. The next thing you know, Dylia is kidnapped, and the system is telling Zelia that she does not have a sister, that her sister is not registered in the system, that her sister does not exist. Zelia herself gets assigned a foster mom who's Professor X's cousin's sister's half sister twice removed, for all of her effectiveness. She takes Zelia to the Carus House, a home for foster children, where they meet a bunch of mutants who are roughly as threatening as my stuffed spider.

(His name's Webby. He's a really cute stuffed spider)

There's a boy with two heads, a watered-down version of Beast. There's a girl, a really gorgeous girl named Vera, with the body of a Victoria's Secret Model and the sexual thirst of a 14-year old boy left rampant in the Playboy mansion.

She does something with plants. Like grow them or something. So useful. SO USEFUL.

There's a really, really nice boy with 4 arms. That's pretty much all he has. There's a motherfucking douchewaffle named Cy whose only known skill is to regenerate his body so fucking fast that he can have different full body tattoos eeeeeeevery fucking day!

The tattoos. No wonder they keep changing. His body must metabolize the ink so fast that he gets a clean slate every day.

Now I ain't saying he's an asshat, but...

Cy’s not done. He spits on the floor again. “She’s damaged goods.”

Weeeeeeell. Maybe he's got different sides to his personality. Maybe he has a heightened appreciation for art.

It’s a painting of a dismembered hand, fingers stretching to extremes, but cut off at the wrist, leaning against the wall. The one next to it shows a long bone, still smeared with blood, floating in the same pale blue void the hand is in.

Oh, no, that's not creepy at all. I would never dream of imagining that someone with an obsession for excessive piercings, a love of bloody art, and an appreciation for self-mutilation might hurt me in the least. Totally innocent. The fact that Cy has paintings of gore and blood and dismemberment doesn't mean that he's not a secretly sensitive soul at heart. He's sooooooooo not a psychopath or anything.

*singsong* Guess who's the projected love interest!!!!! ^_^ Fucking please.

Zelia is determined to find out what happens to her sister. It's the most fun investigation ever because Zelia gets to go fucking clubbing in the slaughterhouse district, man! Then later on, she gets to drive a Porsche. Then later on she gets to make out with the yummy Cy, and yummy?! I mean yummy! I mean his eyes, his eyes!

It warms his slate eyes just a touch, like cold butter that softens after landing on warm toast.

One glance into those deadly attractive eyes and Zelia is toast. ^_^

Oh, Zelia has a sister who's disappeared. Right.

The Setting: The mutants do not play a credible role in the book. Their banishment from the society is not a imminent threat, it doesn't feel real. There is no danger. There is social isolation, not ostracization, because there is almost no example of ostracization in the book regarding the treatment of mutants besides hearsay.

The world building is fucking lazy and completely devoid of imagination and sense. Tell me if this makes any damn sense to you. The United States no longer exists. States have seceded. SERIOUSLY? Let's get one thing straight. It's not fucking easy to secede. Here's an imagined map of what would happen if states had been successful in seceding. The point is that it's fucking incredible, guys. Even more so is the fact that states are combined. We have Neia (Nebraska and Iowa), Okks, Ilmo, Alms. Alaska is its own country, having seceded 4 years ago.

Some States have their own dress codes. Their own DRESS CODES. Some states have mandatory uniforms for men and women.

Seriously, do you? Do you think that in a country where even a school uniform becomes a controversial issue, that somehow magically in the future, we become fucking robots who would agree to a Moral Code and the wearing of adult uniforms? Do you fucking believe that marriage will be abolished, replaced by a term called "legal fusion" when the institution of marriage has been in existence for, I don't know. Like all of humanity? Do you really think our morals, our beliefs, our willingness to lie down and take governmental control on all fucking fours is credible? Really? Do you? If you don't have a problem with the willing suspension of disbelief in order to mindlessly accept a convoluted dystopian future, this book is for you. I cannot accept this.

This futuristic US does not have blue sky. We have no sunshine. We have no skies, because it is all covered up by something called an "agriplane." Because, surely, there is no fucking farmland to be had in the futuristic Kansas and Nebraska, also known as America's Heartland, the main manufacturing and farming region in the United States, at all.

Totally believable. I don't fucking think so.

The Romance: Cy fucking hates Zelia. He belittles her. He calls her names. She faints. He kisses her. She faints into his arms (AGAIN!). They play tonsil hockey.

“Oh, you know. After you passed out, Cy knocked us out of the way to give you mouth-to-mouth. He freaking French-kissed you all the way home, in the name of saving your life. What a goddamned romantic. I had no idea he had it in him.”

Out of fucking nowhere, they fall in love.

Boyfriend is too limited a term for what Cy has become to me. Water? Oxygen? That might do.

WHAT? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! And that fucking love triangle. So weak it's not even funny.It shouldn't have existed. Like this book.

I rev the engine afresh, and the char thrusts ahead with a roar. The speed is therapeutic, but does nothing to erase the memory of two very different kisses.